Christian Living

Well, the title might be a little lofty, but follow me anyway.

I have been dealing with some stuff. And we all deal with some stuff. Yet lately my stuff seems so heavy and prevalent that it’s hard for me to even see the world around me. And I have become a hermit. Girls, sometimes just dealing with life is just way too flipping hard.

It’s easy to do (becoming a hermit, that is). I mean, I don’t really like being around people much at times. Sometimes, I don’t like people much at all. I hate small talk. I despise insincerity, I can be way too intense, and I usually feel like an alien in a room of people who look just like me.

Stuff with the kids, legal junk, business stress, work drama, bad days, weight gain, marriage conflict, financial strain, anxiety, depression, blah-blah-blah. Toss in limited time to relax or exercise, a nacho addiction, and the lurking worry that you might be drinking too often, and then you’re like,

“Hey world, here I am: a doughy, middle aged, stressed out mom, who cusses too much, maybe drinks too much,  who is socially awkward, overly critical, with alarmingly limited conflict resolution skills and a constant feeling of being stretched too thin. Who wants to hug the cactus?”

Why would I leave the house, if I am getting on my own nerves?

So I have bammed myself in, stopped writing, taken to living off of yogurt and a healthy/not-so-healthy fend for yourself mantra, and become a spectator of the world around me.

And now I am peeling back the layers of heartache, and months of good intentions, and trying to reintegrate into a world that sometimes feels like a revolving doors with giant cheese grater panels in place of the glass.

And it’s weird.

But I made myself do it. At least a little. And I lived.

Last week I invited a friend to get pedicures. Then I drove the next day to see a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 or so years. I went to church two days after that, and then later that day, went to a book club with more than a dozen women, some of them strangers, but none of them my best friend, or my bourbon, or my cozy couch blanket. And today, I had a newer friend over, and made her lunch and held her baby and just talked. And it felt right for the first time in a long time. I was tired, and needed a nap after, but it was still good.

I could use the “peeling off the band-aid” analogy but that’s not accurate. I don’t have a wound. I am a wound. I am a downright mess some days, but I still have love and need love, so I have to leave the house, or open my doors and let others in, at least sometimes.

Have your ever been to the “petting” area of an aquarium and petted little sharks or sting-rays? Once when I was there, a worker said that the sting-rays like to rub up against people to keep their skin smooth. While I don’t have any proof that she knew what she was talking about, I can relate to this image: I have smoother edges when I rub elbows with other humans, and months of funk start to rub off when I finally emerge from the hidden sands in the safe and shallow end of the ocean.

People need people. Even grumpy, prickly, critical, anti-social, stressed out people. I also needed the months of hiding. Heck, it’s kind of been years. But for everything there is a season, and spring is finally coming. Did anyone automatically think of this though, lol?

Image result for winter is coming meme

Winter is over and it’s feeling kind of good to move around again and plan a little life, to hug old friends, to hear new opinions, make new friends and even hold babies. I won’t lie and say it was all easy or pretend that I never felt a little out of place, but coming out of hiding will do that. The light is bright, but it’s so good for the soul.

If you are in a season of rest, just relish in it. But if your rest is becoming an addiction, a spot too comfortable and dark, maybe stick a pinky toe out from under your Cheeto covered blanket, climb out of your show hole, pop on some chap-stick, throw on some clothes with buttons and go rub some elbows, accept some hugs, or bounce a baby on your knee.

The healing is good out here. I’ll leave the light on for ya’.

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Dear Hubby,

Sorry this is a few days late. This has been a janky week. Now that we got the house in order and tackled that linen closet we have been talking about for two years, I can write you a little anniversary letter:

Every year of life, and of marriage, seems jam packed. But it also seems completely mundane and the same in a way. Not in a bad way, but the busyness of life can make it feel like a blur.

And if we aren’t careful to take note of what we have been through together, we might not realize how really strong we are. Not just because we work really hard at our marriage, but because we vowed to let God be the center of it. A cord of three strands cannot be broken.

So I figured I’d take a moment to reflect on the last year and what we have conquered together.

  1. Business-In it’s very own category for its obvious stress involved, we have closed a business, opened a business and grew a home-based business, while pretty gracefully handling people in and out of our home several times a day. Phew. That is no easy way to live! But we did it.
  2. We traveled quite a bit-In the middle of being slammed with our work, we took time to travel. We went on a romantic getaway to Cancun, took the boys to DC for a real educational experience, went an a cruise through the Caribbean with friends, went on a family trip with the Knudsons to Atlanta (where Kaden drank a silo of Coke products), and took the entire family (including Ricky Bobby) across country, climbing Pikes Peak (in a car, lol), visiting the Smokies, and going to our first White Sox game. And it was all because of how hard we (especially YOU) work and how we have been blessed.
  3. We worked out-We might not be on the cover of fitness mags, but we have carved out time to be healthy, even food prepping when we were really on top of things. Working out with you is fun, but it also gets me excited about growing old with you. The more years I have with you, the better.
  4. We briefly considered adoption-Infertility really stinks. And anniversaries are a chafing reminder of many, many losses. But briefly this year, we considered adoption, as we were approached to consider it for a mom with a last minute need. We talked with her, prayed about it, tried to imagine how to make space for a child in one short week, and then the mom decided to keep the baby. While this was a brief interlude of adoption struggles, we handled it, and allowed it to help us focus on what we really want in terms of growing our family.
  5. We parented-Every year, we hustlin’. Jackson got his license and we now spend 13% of our day tracking him on multiple phone apps. Kaden outgrew Jackson and entered the 5th dimension of puberty. We taught them new things, buckled down in new ways, and let go when it was right. We have prayed, argued and wrestled with many a decision, but we did our best to do it as a team.
  6. We prayed-We did like 21 days of a 30 day marriage prayer devotional. Well, like I said, we ain’t perfect. But we haven’t thrown the books away, and regardless of the devotional, we still turn to God for answers and nothing makes me feel more cherished than when you pray for me, for our marriage, for my work, for our children, and even for all of our friends. I love you so much for that, and I always will.
  7. We got help-We went to counseling, a lot, shopping around to find the right fit for us, never using time or money as excuses to skip when both of us would really prefer to sweep stuff under the rug and just grab a bourbon. When people say “marriage is hard” this is what is should mean: putting in the dang work to truly try to understand our spouse’s feelings and needs and tend to them, NOT just saying, “Well this is hard….next.” And thanks for letting me share a little of our struggles with the world so we can help make getting help normal and not a sign of weakness. Your commitment to God and our marriage is the strongest thing about you. Thank you!

You already know I love you but it takes more than love to last. It takes commitment, work and one hell of a sense of humor. Thanks for laughing at the crappy stuff with me, however inappropriately, and thanks for occasionally throwing chocolate and Mexican food at the problems. It’s actually a solid practice endorsed by world renowned therapists (it’s not). But seriously you’re the best.

And in the deep and sentimental words of Tim McGraw (kind of), I like you, I love you, I wants some more of you.

See you at the hizzy later,

I’ll be the one with the goofy grin 🙂

 

 

Self love sounds weird.

At least it did to me when I was barely double digits and a woman at a church I was uncomfortably visiting with my slumber party pal suggested that I should “love myself.”

Love myself? What in carnation was this nut-job talking about?

I knew how to love pizza and chocolate. I was comfortable loving the Facts or Life and even Ricky Schroeder. But loving myself? That seemed so strange.

Was that egotistical? Was it even possible? And what does that even look like? I pictured giving myself a hug and my creepy little fingers wrapping around my own narrow shoulders. It. Seemed. WEIRD. Like Silence of the Lambs weird.

Now I realize my childish view of love was rather dim, silly and shallow. I was clueless. But sometimes I still am. And I am not alone.

I look around and I am swimming in a sea, surrounded by capable & lovely women who are drowning in waves of self-doubt, low self-esteem and even self-loathing. Through comparison, guilt, shame and issues of perfectionism, these beautiful God-made women would claim they loved their husband, kids, parents, pets, coffee and stretch pants before they could even fathom loving themselves.

We are stuck in a “I will love myself WHEN pattern.”

And we are swimming in circles.

I will love myself when I start working out.

I will love myself when I lose these last few pounds.

I will love myself when I stop cursing.

I will love myself when I meet the right guy.

I will love myself when I find a job I am proud of.

I will love myself when I get my house in order.

I will love myself when I become a better parent.

I will love myself when I can get back into those jeans.

I will love myself when I look like her.

I will love myself when I have a child.

I will love myself when?

And we are getting nowhere.

And when the “when” doesn’t come we beat ourselves up. When the “when” does come, we find a new “when.” We raise our standards. Because far be it for us to love ourselves now. Why do that when we can always chase perfection?

But there is no perfection.

I am a size 4 (or so). I work out 4-5 times a week. I have worked out for the better part of three years. But there is always “work” to be done. I want soccer legs, and they are not even close to being in that category. I have cellulite and stretch marks. And shaving my legs is a quarterly event that usually coincides with a birthday or anniversary.

My body will never be perfect.

I have read parenting books, marriage books, self-help books and gone to counseling. I pray about, think about and breathe about these things.

My marriage and family will never be perfect.

I self reflect, remain aware, and try to root out my sins and bad habits.

I will never be perfect.

Yet I need to love myself now.

Loving Halo Top ice cream and puppies comes easy. Loving ourselves takes practice.
Yet life is short. Tick tock.

I might not be an expert on the ways of the world but I consider myself an expert on self doubt, guilt and beating myself up for my mistakes. I am still growing and learning how to be kind to myself, but I can’t stand the idea of all the women around me drowning in the waves of self-loathing, so here is what I know TODAY.

I am beautiful. And it’s okay to say that. My face and/or body are not going to show up on your free panty coupon post card from Victoria Secret (if it does, well hey), but I move my body daily, it serves its purposes, and I am happy to still be in it. It is a gift, at its best and at its worst and I refuse to live in a love/hate relationship with something that carries me through my life so well.

I am lovely. And it’s okay to believe that (even when the proof isn’t right in front of me.) I was made by a GLORIOUS MAKER. And He makes no mistakes. My emotions are mine. They are real and they serve a purpose. I will not deny them or punish myself for feeling them. I will forgive myself when I let my emotions hurt me or hurt others. I am human.

I am lovable. I have never met a person who didn’t have a bad day. Some chicks out there make it look easy. They smile more. They bake more casseroles. They wear lipstick to workout. I don’t have to be like them to be lovable. I can be like me: sarcastic, forgetful, grumpy, thoughtful, thoughtless, rash, patient and funny. I can even laugh at my own jokes, have a bad day, or not cook dinner. And I am still lovable.

I can forgive myself. If anyone deserves grace, it’s me. And it’s you. And we have to be the first to let it go and give our mistakes and sins over to God. We don’t have to carry it with us. We can, but we will regret the heaviness and the pain it will cause us. And we will likely regret the million ways it will hold us back from happiness.

I can let love flow through me. Even if I am mad, hurt, wounded, tired or sad. I can let love flow through me. I don’t have to be angelic, all-consumed with the well-being of others or floating on a cloud wearing a halo of baby’s breath. I can just be me, and let love flow through me to the best of my current ability. And I can be okay with that. Some days love will gush. Other days it will be a slow drip. But by golly, I am a conduit of love.

We can even tell ourselves, “I love me.” And it’s not even weird.

I sat in my sunroom the other day and listened to an extra long instrumental version of Hillsong’s Oceans and just told myself the good stuff I needed to hear. And it was GOOD. And the roof didn’t cave in on me. I was thankful that the FedEx guy didn’t show up during my hippy worship lovefest with my eyes closed whispering sweet nothings to myself, but other than an annoying telemarketer briefly messing up my love flow, all was well.

When you love yourself, you can love others better.

When you aren’t consumed with all of your imperfections, mistakes and self-perceived ugliness, you can actually love other people. You can be happy for them. You can be proud of them. And it won’t hurt you one tiny bit.

When we are waiting on something about us to change before we can throw caution to the wind and live, we miss out on a lot of opportunities for joy, love and life. And we can’t get it back.

I don’t know what’s going on with you. Maybe you stink at managing money. Maybe you like cookies a bit too much (there’s not really a too much, but just roll with it). Maybe you just don’t want to live the life that someone else has picked out for you. But does that mean you can’t go ahead and take the plunge and LOVE YOU? Now?

What’s the worst that could happen? If being hard on yourself isn’t working, maybe being kind to yourself will do the trick. I promise you one thing: once you try self LOVE, self hate will be out the dang door. It serves NO purpose and will never, ever help you reach your goals or your destiny.

I heard this recently, “Even a rat in a maze will change directions when he hits a wall enough times.” Well I ain’t no stinkin’ rat y’all.

So I’m going to back away from the wall, wrap my little fingers around myself, tell myself “You got this. You are lovable. God made you by design”, close my eyes and just meditate on that till the FedEx guy gets here.

And the world will be better for it.

Ryan Gosling called. He said to tell you, “Hey girl, love yourself.”

And who are we to argue with that?

 

 

I am a mother of teens: a driving teen, and a driving me crazy teen. Actually they are both great, and both completely teenagery without reservation.

I think back to my teenage years: what I knew, what I thought I knew, what I felt and what I believed. I was a teen, like most other teens: I was a beautiful mess.

Parenting a teen is weird. Parenting is just weird. It’s water-slides one minute, and discipline the next. It’s constant energy, atoms of love spliced with atoms of fear.

Recently my oldest told me that he wasn’t going to college. “Say what?!?” I thought silently, while trying to keep my face from betraying me. I grew up in a household where a college degree was a stated expectation. Since I was 6 years old, I knew I would go to college. No other options were ever imagined.

It wasn’t because my family was full of PhD’s. It was because my family had worked tirelessly without the benefit of a secondary education. It was because my mom wanted more for me – expected “more” for me. I was the first person in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. I now hold a master’s degree.

So when my son said that college was not for him, I just stopped. I froze. And I told him it was his decision. A part of me hoped he would “come around.” A part of me knows it’s his life, his choices, and maybe even his mistake to make. Time will tell.

But you should know that I can be a control freak. I have been known to hover over my kids. I have been accused of coddling more than once. And of course, I have dreams for my kids, or at least I thought I did.

But I am learning to let go. To realize that there are many paths to success and to happiness – to loosen the reigns. I still offer and enforce consequences, but then I let go, and let my kids choose their way.

It is so freeing…for ME.

It allows me to have time to breathe, energy to think, and spirit left over to do life. And even have a little joy in the process. I love my kids with all my heart, but when people say, “My kids are my life,” I wonder if something is wrong with me, because I wonder what their life will be like if their kids fail at meeting their expectations. I wonder if I don’t care enough because I am okay with them making some mistakes.

I don’t think I am a great mom, but I know that I am at least a good mom. But in some ways, I feel like I already have my semi-retirement papers in hand. I know that I will never stop being their mom, but I also know that they that they have their own minds. And I have realized that their successes are not mine to claim; nor are their failures.

I still lose sleep over them, and my husband and I pray for them often. Their spiritual and mental health are important to us. Their education and social adjustment are central concerns. I cook for them (when they don’t eat 3 Hot Pockets seven minutes before dinner) and I still fix my son’s hair when he tries to cut it himself, and  I hug them before bed time. Hell, I even pack their lunches. But I do it all because I want to, not because I am trying to force my agenda on them. Not because my own mental health depends on their success.

And I have learned the best way to parent my children well is to take care of myself first, and to take care of my marriage next. This is hard for me, but I give it all I’ve got. Because in 5 years, it’s just us, and our dogs and a 1999 RV that we’ve name Rick James. With any luck we will have a high-end-pinkies-up plastic martini set from a flea market, a great banana pudding recipe, and a road-trip planned for anywhere.

In the meantime there is me: little me, doing my squats, walking my dogs, working, cleaning, “wifing”, hiking, painting, (quitting) learning to crochet, downloading language apps that I never use, and holding my skin back on my face once a week to remember what it looks like to be 28.

I realize I still have dreams for my children: I dream that they will be kind their girlfriends or wives, I pray that they will sometimes say yes when friends ask for help moving, I long for them to have self-love, I hope that they will travel and fall in love, and I want for them to never grow tired of knowledge, honesty and compassion. I picture them all over the world, hiking in the mountains, walking their dogs on beaches and eating sushi on an island we can barely pronounce.

But mostly I dream for them to have their own dreams and for them to have the courage to pursue them. And I pray that they sometimes come visit their mama, who will fearlessly be pursuing her own.

 

I hate labeling my kid. I go out of my way NOT to do it. I want to just know KG, to be his mom, and help guide him through his childhood. And I go out of my way not use diagnosis as a crutch (for him or for me). I also try not to be defensive of him.

But for the sake of understanding, I will tell you that he has a different mindset, different behavior at times, and definitely different social norms.

My husband and I have been married for six years. We are a blended family, and that brings on challenges, especially in regards to discipline. But disciplining some kids can be a little more complex, so we need help, therefore we found a counselor who specializes in more complex situations.

Our counselor asked us how other people’s views of my kids impact us. I paused. In general, I don’t care too awfully much what people think. And I work really hard not to let what people think of my kids or my parenting to (negatively) impact how I parent. Sometimes I have to pretend like I am in a bubble and tune out the world, but I pride myself on parenting the same way whether I have witnesses or if I am at home (it’s not exactly the same but I try.)

But do I care what people think of my kid in general? Well short answer: kind of. At least enough write this overdo post.

KG did everything a little late, talked differently, bit other kids, got kicked out off daycare, and found trouble around many corners. I have spent a lot of time in meetings. I have cried and snotted in front of many a teacher. I have even made teachers cry because I was frustrated and angry and feeling awfully alone. And I regret that. I now go out of my way to stand beside each teacher and support them the very way I pray they will support me. And I have realized that it helps if people actually like me (my intentions more so than anything), and care about my son (especially since he needs their guidance too.)

My son is a unique person, and I wouldn’t change him. He is creative and non-linear. Ask him to describe something to you, and his response might dazzle you. He has an earnest interest in science and memorizes science facts and quizzes me (I almost never know the answers). Last week he broke up a girl fight at school. This week he asked me if angels poop. He was completely serious. (That was stumper. Message me if you know the answer. Or if you want to hear mine.)

The journey of my son’s life has been affected by his trials and his differences, but I really do love who he is, how he loves, and I can’t wait to see his life continue to unfold.

I don’t want to change him.

But not everyone gets him. He is easily frustrated and easily angered. He says odd stuff, curses at times, and makes jokes at the wrong times. He is way too open about private stuff. He is bad at eye contact and handshakes and sometimes, he looks upset with others when really he is disappointed in himself. He is socially awkward at times too.[ I think he gets it ALL from me, but that’s another post ;-)]

I have to really, really, really work at not running around going off on people sometimes. I want to tell them what a good kid he really is, that he is generous, not stingy with gifts, tender-hearted, interesting, good with little kids, sweet with dogs, a great dancer and better at sports than he seems (he gets nervous.)

I want to tell the world that that he will be something; that he already is something.

He is harder on himself than anyone on this planet can ever be on him. And I suspect that’s why he is the way he is sometimes. Because he just wants to be better, to act better, to achieve more. And he doesn’t always know how. And it frustrates him.

And I don’t have all the answers. And I never will.

And not everyone is going to “get” him, or like him, or understand him.

But that’s life.

And that’s why I don’t run around making excuses for him (at least I try not to), or pulling the special needs card every time he doesn’t make the team or earn a spot somewhere. I have NEVER gone ahead of him and said, “Please choose him because he needs this” even though it might have helped, or might have kept him from some rejection. I never want to send him where he is not wanted. That is not successful living to me.

But damn does my heart break sometimes.

If people knew what I knew, would they treat him better or worse? Would he be more accepted or more often rejected? Because at this point, he might just come across as a tall, pretty cute kid with kick ass hair who is a little shy or a little funny. Or he might seem like a kid full of rage, with low self-esteem and a bad attitude. Or he might seem smart, quirky, extroverted and surprisingly thoughtful. And all of those could be true depending on the day.

My son, is incredibly, beautifully, wonderfully human.

And then there are the people who see him…really see him. And they go out of their way to connect with him, to lend him a helping hand or offer him a word of encouragement. Why do they get it when so many people don’t? I am guessing something or someone in their life has given them the gift of well-developed empathy. We don’t all have that gift, but I am thankful for those in my son’s life that do.

As a mom, there is nothing more rewarding than when others see the good in your kid, and can see when he is trying, can see past a lot of the junk, and offer some good old fashioned kindness.

I could offer you up some “awareness” day info to help you understand my kid better, but here’s the reality:

He’s not going to run through life wearing a shirt that tells everyone why he is mad at himself, or cussing for no apparent reason. He is not going to take me to work with him so I can put everyone in their place when they think the worst of him. He has to LIVE in this world, truly do life in it. And he will have to make some adjustments at times, and at other times, he will have to learn to embrace what makes him different and spectacular.

But he will have to blaze his own trails.

And in the end, we all could be a little more aware of why people act the way that they do, and ask the right questions if we really care to know. We can stop jumping to conclusions. We can even offer our help and actually come along someone who is struggling, and offer a pat on the back or a word of encouragement. We can make sure that no human being lives life unseen, or completely misunderstood.

We can be kind. We can be brave, untamed and trail-blazingly kind.

Awareness of ourselves, and our capacity to love, is what we need more of. And this is what I want my kids to learn too: LOVE is successful living, to me.

This month is the 11 year anniversary of my divorce, and when I think about the last decade (plus one), I have this amazing perspective. But time has that effect.

I see the divorces happening in our community and  I have so much I want to say to the people in the middle of the storm. These are the boiled down, nutshell, must know things about getting a divorce. This is what you absolutely MUST know:

Slow down-Whether you “want” the divorce or not, we all hit a point where the divorce process just drains the life and goodness out of us, leaving us exhausted, empty and panicked. Our flight or fight kicks in and we either become combative or we run for the hills. But slow down! The decisions you make right now might be hard as heck, but they will follow you for many many years. Be wise, seek wise counsel (personal and professional) and don’t be so hurried to just end the ordeal that you create a new ordeal that drives you mad for longer than your marriage.

Deal with your anger-Your ex isn’t the only one that’s a hot mess, and everyone can see it but you. Stop worrying about what “they” are doing or how they are dealing with their junk, and start dealing with your’s. Chances are you are angry, hurt and your trust is broken. You might feel tempted to drink it or one-night-stand it away, but it’ll still be there when you wake up. Deal with your emotions or they will deal with you.

Don’t answer the phone-Or the text messages or the emails, or the carrier pigeon, when you are emotional or your ex is emotional. You-will-regret-it. And you might even break a few phones in the middle of your tirade. Be prepared to set solid boundaries. Hang up if they curse at you. Hang up if they yell at you. Stop texting when they call you a name. And keep a record for your attorney if it continues. You do not have to live that way.

Things Won’t Always Be Like This-Things will get better, but it takes a lot of time, and a lot of work. I noticed a significant improvement 5 years after my divorce, but there are still times when it can be hard. But you have to start behaving in a way that allows for the relationship to be civil, maybe even good, in due time. How they act, is up to them.

But the change is up to you-Get help. Set boundaries. Put in the hard work. Take responsibility for your own actions. Don’t blame your ex for your decisions. And realize that if you think you can control them more now that you are divorced, you shall be disappointed. Pick your battles carefully and be kind even if it seems impossible.

In the end you have more control than you think, but it is not over your ex, it is over yourself and your choices. You might not feel like yourself right now but you must rely on the best version of yourself and the wise and thoughtful people around you to help you get through this trying time. As dreadful and painful as it is, it really will get better.

Trust me, I have been there.

 

I lost my grandmother to cancer. And I was just a teen. There is so much I would love to talk with her about if given the chance. And so much I just couldn’t understand at the time.

But now I am 41. And my friends are getting sick. A few have passed away. It seems like it was just yesterday when we were all kids.

I have been following the story and life of the Beasley family the last few years. I am not a close friend. We went to college together. I am close with very few people, but I have always thought highly of them, and have been honored to watch their journey, even if mainly on Facebook.

Scott has been fighting colon cancer. Adrienne has been fiercely by his side. Their children are 4 and 6. And they are amazing parents. Most of you who know me already know all of this because you know them too, and I am sure you have been impacted just I have been.

But I so rarely care to write lately. I feel there is so little that is worth saying. People just talk too damn much. But my heart demands that I write about this family’s impact on me, because in a world full of so much ugliness and nonsense, some things are still worth reflecting on.

In the last few years, their journey has impacted my journey as a wife, a mother and a Christian. Here’s how:

  • Adrienne has honored Scott–She always speaks of Scott with love and respect. I have never heard her complain, or even heard her say, “I am tired” and Lord knows she has her hands full. She has enjoyed Scott and their marriage, no matter how hard their days became. She is the picture of strength and loyalty.
  • Scott has honored Adrienne–A woman loves to be loved and Scott clearly loves Adrienne. He boasts about her efforts with the children, with work, around the house and even in the yard. He admires her and it is clear. They have a beautiful marriage and even in the hardest of times, Scott takes time to celebrate their union.
  • Adrienne has taken care of herself–This is actually huge. I have seen Adrienne at the gym over the years and it always impresses me. We all tend to get busy and say we are too busy to take time for ourselves, putting our husbands and children always ahead of ourselves but if she can make time to take care of herself, can’t we all?
  • Scott has never acted like a victim–Scott has dealt with some pretty intense physical battles leaving him in constant pain. But he always says that he is the luckiest man alive. I think this is the BIGGEST DIFFERENCE between a good life and a “bad life”: simply HOW WE VIEW IT.
  • They shared their struggle openly–It’s tempting to want to keep our heartache and struggles to ourselves, but I have learned from them that if we share our struggles then people can pray for us and come around us. We are not designed to suffer alone. It’s also a trap to feel like an imposition to other people, thinking to ourselves that people are burdened enough without dealing with our struggles too. But truth be told, it has blessed me to pray for this family, and to vicariously celebrate in their daily victories.
  • They honored God–No matter what, they always honored God through their faith, their hope and their love. They always thanked God for their blessings. They ALWAYS shared their faith and they ALWAYS gave Him all the glory!

I can honestly say that I have worked to become a better wife because of Adrienne and a more thankful Christian because of Scott. I am so blessed to be a witness to their story and my life will be forever touched by their marriage and their example in following Christ.

Scott has recently learned that the doctors have reached the end of their expertise and their ability to intervene. He is spending time with his family and friends. And I have no doubt that his work in God’s kingdom is far from done. God can and does work miracles. He worked a great one already in creating such a great family.

I am honored to be their sister is Christ, to be able to pray for them and be encouraged by their faith.

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Thanks Beasley family, for letting God work through you.

It’s been nearly a month since I have written.

Yes, I have been busy. The boys were finishing the school year, the dog sitting business is busy and my husband’s business is ever demanding. And to top it off, we did a major remodel in our home.

But there’s yet another problem. I have nothing to say. Well, nothing that isn’t already being said over and over again.

Does anyone say anything anymore that is worth hearing? Who is the voice of reason above all the noise? How do we clear out all the clutter and let our minds rest? Where is the reprieve from it all???

And when in the world do we listen?

I reposted this from Jen Hatmaker on my FB page:

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And I love it. And because of it, I have reached out to my gay friends to let them know I love them, that I am thinking about them, and grieving with them.

But there is more we can do. We. Can. Listen.

I want to yell SHUT UP so loud that my own eardrums shake. I want to become hoarse from the anger behind it. I want to show my disgust. And then I want to fast from speaking and opining and sit in monk silence listening to the hearts of men.

And at the very moment that I open my mouth to form the words, tongue on my teeth, I want to shut up again and listen.

I want to listen so hard that the speaker in my presence runs out of grief and feels so understood that they see me as family from this point forward. Instead of connecting through spouting and shouting, I want to connect in silent reverence never before seen in our generation.

And then I want to fast from speaking and opining and sit in monk silence listening to the hearts of men.

I want to disregard everything that labels who we are and learn the story of each person and understand their hearts and pray for their souls, not because I deem them sinners, but because I deem them worthy of my time and affection.

I want to see them with new eyes and hear them with new ears. I want to love them in spite of them. I want to love them in spite of myself.

Before I wrote this, I prayed to God to give me words if He wanted me to use them and to give me silence if He wanted me to be quiet.

Speak up in righteous anger, speak up in love, speak up in hope of a better world. But don’t be afraid to shut up sometimes. We learn not from hearing ourselves speak but from listening.

And when have you felt the most loved? When someone spoke to you, or when someone just listened? And they heard you, and you could feel it in your soul?

I pray that I no longer contribute to a listening-deprived world. I pray to grow in my listening skills, to be slow to anger and slow to speak. I pray to seek to understand above seeking to be heard. I pray to be a flame for peace instead of a spark of rage. I pray to love earnestly and without condition. I pray to speak up for the wounded and grieve with the grieving. I pray to be a physical presence in the lives of those in need and not just a virtual mouthpiece stroking my own ego and feeding an ever-famished pit of anger that would rule me if I allowed it.

I pray to listen. Because in the silence and in the stillness, love grows wild.

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It’s that time of the year: award ceremony time. Kids across the country are being honored for their achievements in academics, athletics and character.

But not all kids.

And not mine. My kid doesn’t even get to go to field day. And I have NEVER stepped foot into an awards ceremony.

I guess that makes me a bad parent, right?

It’s not a competition though right? All kids are different right?

But you know as well as I do, that is empty and meaningless rhetoric because when kids are “bad” who do we blame? The parents. Every stinking time.

“It’s the parent’s fault!” said proudly by a parent who pats themselves on the back every time their kid does right, or by the non-parent who can comfortably say, “My (imaginary) kid would never do that.”

You have said it too I bet. A kid on the bus is mean to your kid, and you immediately blame the parents. You might have even said to yourself, “I’d like to give that parent a piece of my mind” (or worse) and you felt entitled to feel that way. After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right???

My goal is not to be defensive or self righteous, but if in explaining my perspective to you, I come across that way, I am sorry. But I have had enough.

Yes there are absentee parents. There are neglectful parents. There are abusive parents. And there are parents that teach their kids truly evil ways. But seeing a child who is struggling or misbehaving does not give us the right to diagnose the parenting of someone. It’s pompous, rude, and simply callous–because you have not walked a millimeter in that parent’s shoes. You have not seen their struggle. And you might not even care.

If you met my youngest child on a bad day, you might think he is raised in a barn, full of crazies. He can be rude, defiant, and even verbally abusive. He collects discipline points like baseball cards. Getting dressed in the mornings takes the patience of a saint, and doing homework at night takes 4 hours, a glass of wine, 5 Hail Marys (and I am not even Catholic), 6 moments of silence, and a cry for the filling of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I am ready for the second coming of the Lord (kidding, kind of.)

I go to so many meetings for my son as his school, monthly doctors appointments, counseling sessions (for him and for me, oh and for my marriage), we medicate, we meditate, we do yoga, we go to church, we pray for and over our children, we read the Bible, I daily communicate with his various teachers, consult with various specialists, lose a lot of sleep, and do my best to trust in God’s plan. But he still misbehaves way more than most children.

While your child might have to work to make the honor roll, my child has to work to get through the day without a write up. While you might have to gently remind your child to start his homework by a reasonable time, I have to have consequences and rewards in place for basic behavior that most parents would take for granted.

When he flips out at school and gets sent to in school suspension, rest assured, it is not because of his parenting. And when your kid gets a character award, it may or may not have anything to do with you. Kids can be great in spite of their troubled upbringing, and kids can be difficult and troubled in spite a blessed upbringing.

You see, some of these “bad” kids have real issues that you don’t know about: mental or emotional issues that are difficult to understand and even more difficult to navigate. And while my son has some “labels” that are supposed to help him, there seems to be an ocean of what we and his educators just do not understand about him. I have heard, “We have tried everything,” from dozens of teachers and specialists. I have heard, “You are doing all you can,” more times that I can count (and it is little consolation) and I have even heard, “When they find out what is wrong with him, they will name it after him,” from one of his counselors. And she might be right.

Years ago, I saw a daytime talk show discussing the heartbreak of losing a child. One couple, who I will never forget, discussed how they dealt with the enormous pain. They said that even though they only had their little baby for a few hours, they knew that was the life that God had planned for her. It was a life without prom, graduating high school, a wedding or children; but it was HER life. It was no less precious or valuable because of that.

You see, each child has a different life and a different future. I cannot expect from my child what another parent expects from their child. I would like to think we are all just doing our best. And while YOUR best parenting might lead your child into West Point or into the NFL, my best parenting might lead my child into gainful employment at a local business. But it doesn’t mean I have failed as a parent.

We would never dream of blaming a parent for their child’s serious illness or their serious health condition at birth. But there are illnesses and issues that aren’t so obvious that we are quick to blame on “crappy” parenting.

I am not sure when it became so common to be so dang judgemental and full of pride. One day an honor student can turn into a criminal. And one day, a troubled teen can turn into a hero. We do not get to write our kid’s story or take credit for all they are or who they become. It is part parenting, part personal responsible and personality of the child, and part will of God. Let’s not get carried away with assigning blame or credit where is may not deserve to land.

And unless you have been through a parenting struggle with a truly difficult child, you have NO idea how hurtful that is or how isolated in makes parents like me feel to hear these prideful statements. I am already down (but not out!). Please take off your kicking boots. And if you are feeling generous, throw a prayer or an act of kindness our way.

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Moms come up with the best gift ideas…for everyone else. They make holidays special, even ones you didn’t know existed. She has been celebrating you and your kids like it is her job. Now is your chance to make her feel special.

But what to get/do for her? You know your wife better than anyone, but let’s face it; you’re not a chick. And you just might feel fresh out of ideas.

Here is a list of things you might not have thought of. They range from FREE to $9 to about $250 and none of them are jewelry, chocolate, or involve glitter that she will end up cleaning anyway.

Stuff:

A Water Softening Shower Head – These are only about $35 and will make her skin and hair feel like a million bucks. Does she ever make you touch her hair after the salon? Yeah, now you can help her feel all soft and silky all the time.

Sports Bras – If you know her size and if she exercises ever, I bet she would like several more bras. We never have enough and since people can see them a bit, we like variety of color and style.

Cooler Purse – I love my cooler that looks like a purse. I take it to wrestling events for my son (they say they have “healthy” concessions but it’s just sausage biscuits and Doritos) and I take it with me when I know I am going to be too busy to eat healthy.

Infuser Water Bottle – I don’t have one, but I have friends who love them. My hubby bought me a water bottle once though and I loved it because I knew he had heard me saying that I needed to drink more water.

Essential Oil Diffuser – I don’t have one of these either, and there are many to choose from (varying in quality) but these are great for making the house smell amazing while also providing health benefits. I want.

Services:

Mini Photo Session – For around $250 (in my area) you can get a short photo session with about 10 photos that you can later print if you would like. I bet you she never thinks there are enough “good” pics of the whole family. Now is your chance to blow her mind.

Spa Service – So many options here: massage, facial, nails, hair, or med spa treatments. Easy option is to get her a gift certificate from her favorite spa and let her choose. I would suggest $125 for a few more options but even $75 can help her get some relaxation.

Personal training – If she has mentioned this to you, then go for it! If not, proceed with caution. You don’t want to push your wife into working out by implying you think she needs to. But many of my friends would love this as a gift!

Housekeeping Services – This is another caution zone, but if my hubby either cleaned the house or hired someone to, I would make immediate love to him. Do what you want with that info.

Landscaping – I love a nice flowerbed, but I suck at it. My hubs has scored major points by building, filling and planting flower beds. It’s terribly romantic in an oddly manure way.

Free:

A letter from you – This is the crème de la crème of “words of affirmation” deeds. Just tell her why you love her and what she means to you and your family. Watch her heart melt and the love flow. It’s magic. Sing it to her, and well, ya know.

A video from the kid(s) – Tear and laughter combined are the ultimate display of emotions. Involve the kids and you are sure to swell her heart and make memories worth more than diamonds.

Breakfast in bed – Never a complaint with the breakfast in bed. Just be mindful of what she actually likes to eat. And if you involve the kids, and the food turns out gross, that’s okay. But usher the kids out before she has to choke down soy sauce covered carrots on saltines. I might be speaking from experience.

A no-sweat dinner – No shopping, no planning, no cooking, no cleaning, and no thinking. Ahhhhhhhh. Sounds like a dream to me.

Quality time:

Plan an activity for the whole family – Even a walk followed by ice cream is great. Has she mentioned a bunch of times that she wanted to go on a picnic? Then now is the time to make it happen.

Alone time – She might like needs a little time alone. Give her a couple of hours to just do NOTHING. Maybe she wants to sit in the tub until her skin prunes, or she wants to read a salacious novel. Either way, she will enjoy having a little down time without the expectation of folding, wiping or cooking anything for anybody.

 

Whatever you decide to do to recognize your wife, just make it’s personal and don’t wait until the last minute if you can help it. Women are quite reasonable (even if stereotypes disagree), just realize that loving her is usually quite simple, just do it.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!